First, there’s romance as a genre of fiction. Yum. People meet (usually two, sometimes more) they fall in love, they live happily ever after. Some people consider the HEA optional. I do not. Is it realistic? Of course not. Life is messy. In real life, the HEA involves dentist visits and annoying in-laws and nasty bosses. But when reading a book, I don’t need to think about ingrown toenails, teenage angst, or crabby tax assessors.
Real-life romance DOES involve those things. Yep. In my opinion, the most truly romantic relationships of all are the ones where you can deal with all the day-to-day garbage and still end up snuggling under the covers at night saying, “life is good.” Even if it’s punctuated with, “hand me the Tylenol,” and “don’t forget we have to meet with the school guidance counselor tomorrow.”
So here are a few benchmarks of real romance, in one person’s humble opinion:
- The fact that even in his sleep, his arms still automatically wrap around if I snuggle up against him.
- Even if he's sound asleep, he still responds to the words "I love you" with "Love you too."
- The fact that he still wants to jump my bones even though my weight has practically doubled since our dating days.
- Ditto when he sees a tiny bikini on TV and says, “you need an outfit like that”. And he genuinely means it.
- Driving the kids to a friend’s for the night so we can make out in the living room.
- The way we can communicate with just a word—one line from a movie or song or joke we saw or heard fifteen years ago. It gives us a secret language the children and others don’t understand.
- It’s him staying up late and going to work exhausted because I can’t sleep.
- It’s him saying “what size do you need?” and not raising an eyebrow when I ask him to pick up a box of tampons when he stops at the store. He already KNOWS the brand.
- It’s him being the one crying his eyes out in the hospital the day my mother died, when my brother, father and I couldn’t get past our stiff-upper-lip upbringing.
- Or how about the man selling romance novels out of his academic office on campus, since my small-press books weren’t available in stores?
- Or saying. “You’ve been in a rotten mood. Go write for a while.” The man just knows me that well!
Has everything been perfect for the last two decades? Of course not! We’re two intelligent, sarcastic, temperamental human beings. We fight, we whine, we know exactly which buttons to push to piss the other off big-time. As we get older, life hurts a lot more than it used to, and sex in the shower no longer sounds like such a viable idea. And don’t even get me started on money. God knows we’ve made very idiotic financial decision we could and then some. But would I trade even one of those twenty-two years for all the financial security in the world? NO FRICKING WAY!
And that, I believe is romance. The real deal. And that makes Cindy a very lucky girl.